W&D Banner

Book One: Destiny

by Amanda
Rating: R

Note: Language. Also some quasi non-consensual sex, & violence. Some B/F (sort of).

I was going to throw up. Yep. There was no way around it, I could act as tough as I wanted to, but when the train barreled over the state line into California, I had to puke. So I made my way on weak legs into the bathroom, and just kneeled there, allowing myself whatever it needed to do to get this terrible gurgling to disappear. I was covered in a cold sweat, and my hands where shaking as I repeatedly ran my palms over my thighs.

Big Bad Slayer Faith. Freaking out this bad and I wasn't even near Sunnydale yet. How was I going to even function when I got there? When I needed to be at my strongest?

I felt the release, and just leaned over the bowl, forcing it all out of me.

An hour later and the nervousness was gone. I had taken a shower, pulled on clean clothes, and was looking out the window. The sun was up now, making the ride pretty wicked. The sunlight was touching the waves of the Pacific, and it looked surreal. I was going to see Buffy. It was a weird feeling now. The closer I got, the tighter my insides felt, like they were trying to move faster than the train. I was never all that smart, but maybe it was my soul, knowing B was getting closer. I am sure there was some big over the top reason, and I was also sure that Giles would love telling me all about it. But what I knew was that the miles were disappearing, and I was getting closer. Oh, and that Spike was fucking dead.

Tara's voice echoed in my head. He was hitting her. Okay, hitting, not such a big deal, right? After all he was a vampire. She was the Slayer. Made sense that there would be some tension in the work place. But that he was touching her, with his fucking dead hands, doing things to her, that Tara thought B couldn't stop. Well that was just not going to continue. Even though she was the Slayer, B was a girl. And I knew how hard it was when someone was trying to possess you, emotionally, physically, and sexually. Part of your brain just stops. Sure the reality is she could stake him, but in her mind, she was just a girl, and he was a big strong man. When someone is doing that to you, you shut down. Just like I had done in prison. Just like I had done when I was younger, in Boston. You shut down. You start hearing the words that they are saying. Sure at first you shrug in disbelief, but just like Pavlov's Dogs (Discovery Channel does work) you hear it enough you start to believe it. And B wasn't exactly in top form. How could she be? She was locked away in a Hell, for who knows how long it felt like for her, and then she gets back, legs and mind a little wobbly, and he swoops in, taking control. I crossed my arms, wondering what Soul-boy thought about all this. I never pegged him as someone who was willing to share, and who was I to blame him? If things had been reversed I wouldn't share Buffy. But who was I kidding, I would never get the chance to experience that question in reality. But if Angel really did love her like he always moaned, how could he let this happen? Maybe he was away again, stuck in another dimension helping the helpless. That's where he was when she needed him last; maybe that was where he was again. For his sake I hoped so. If he knew what was going on in the 'Dale, and just let it happen; he would be the next to dust after I got done with Spike.

*****

"Where are you going?" Tara asked, coming from the dining room, surprising Buffy. She hadn't heard the witch coming.

"Patrol." Buffy said, pulling on her jacket.

"With Spike?" Tara asked, her face a mask of concern. Buffy sighed, turning to face the taller girl.

"Tara."

"No, Buffy. What I saw wasn't right. And I know that you can feel that deep inside. He is hurting you."

"But what does it matter?" Buffy asked, stepping forward and dropping her voice. "I am here, in this place," she moved her hand through the air around them. "I feel nothing here, but when I am with him I feel something. A faint little glimmer of something."

"Do you love him?" Tara asked, and Buffy responded with a laugh.

"No." She was still laughing lightly.

"Then I don't get it Buffy. What do you feel when he does that to you?"

"What does it matter what it is, at least it is something."

"But you could have more. You could have love, and tenderness." Buffy held her hand up.

"Stop. Listen, Tara. I know you have these great Sapphic aspirations for me, but it is not going to happen. Look for somebody else to convert to your little tribe." She snapped, her voice was sharp, and Tara took it like a knife. Her eyes screamed with hurt, and her face reflected the disbelief. Buffy wanted to take it back the moment she said it, she wanted to pull it all back. This was Tara, the conscience, and the rock of their odd little family. "I, I." Buffy started, but Tara straightened her shoulders.

"I will not let him hurt you, and neither will anyone else."

"Who did you tell?" Buffy asked, feeling ashamed again. "Who did you tell?" But Tara didn't answer; she just turned and walked back into the kitchen.

*****

I had hoped to arrive in town during the day, knowing B would be sleeping off a night of slaying, or at school, or just somewhere other than walking the streets. Now I was kind of angry with myself for just rushing to her rescue. I should have made a plan. There could be a really good chance that Tara just thought she saw something that wasn't really there. I know Tara's great and all, but she does have a history, I can tell with the flinching, that girl was once beat down. But that does kinda make someone hyper sensitive to it. Hell, for all I knew B just liked it rough. Damn! I should have a plan, sneak around, watch her, see her, and smell her. Okay, plan was no good. I was action girl, not plan girl. Just needed to concentrate on putting one foot in front of the other, not thinking that B was somewhere around here. I wondered what she was wearing tonight. Was her hair up or -

"Get a fucking grip." I hissed at myself. Okay, I can do this. What's the big deal? I am just in town to check everything out, make sure it's five by five, and then I was out. Okay, so just walk. I looked around. I was getting closer to her house, just a few more blocks to go really. Man I hoped that Tara was there, but no one else. I wasn't ready to face the whole group. God, I really hoped I wouldn't have to face all of them.

*****

Tara brought a bowl of chips into the living room, setting it before Xander. The whole gang had come over when Tara called them, and they were busily chatting amongst themselves. Dawn was laughing at something Xander said, tossing her hair. It was just so good to have all of them together, and they seemed happy.

Willow walked up next to her lover, slipping her arm around her waist.

"So, what is with calling the Scooby Meeting?" Willow asked before leaning up to plant a kiss on Tara's cheek "Not that I mind spending quality time with all of my friends and all, but I um, kinda had plans," Willow gently moved her hand over Tara's back side, "for later."

"Um," Tara was fighting not to blush, and gulped. She wondered if she should just tell the whole group that Faith would be here within the hour, and she was here to stop Spike. Yeah, how would one phrase that Tara? She wondered. Moving her eyes over the group she didn't think that would be the best idea, but then again, if she didn't say something, Faith would be walking into hostile territory.

"Baby?"

"Um, well actually."

*****

I was passing the last cemetery that separated me from Buffy's house, and my Slayer senses went crazy. Cramps first, sign that the vamps were near. But then I felt a low humming. It was kind of annoying. But melodic too. I never knew I could channel fucking humming birds or bees, or whatever the hell was making the noise.

"No." Moan. Coming from the cemetery, soft, barely audible. But my whole chest tightened.

"B?" I whispered, my legs taking off before I thought to run. I was vaulting over tombstones, dodging monuments, and the humming got stronger, and so did the vampire radar. Then I saw them in the distance. He was on top of her, and I could tell from his rhythm what he was doing. My blood was boiling now. I couldn't see her face. God, she was so small, hidden underneath him.

I was still running, hands patting over pockets, damning myself for having lost my stake somewhere along the way. The spares were in my bag, at the train station, in a locker. Well, fuck it, if I had to pull his heart out with my bare hand I would.

He pulled back his arm, and I heard the sickening crunch as his fist met her face.

"No one can love you, no one but me." He moaned, and then did the unthinkable. He spat on her. Oh, no, no, no. If I could fly, I was doing it now. "Give it up, Slayer. I am the best you can ever have." I was behind him, seeing his naked white ass pumping above her. The rage inside me was screaming to get out. It had boiled all day, a low slow boil, but now the kettle was whistling. This rage was different than any other rage I had ever felt. I was loosing myself in it. I dropped my hands on his shoulders, my fingers digging into his leather coat.

"Stop it!" I screamed and pulled him off her, throwing him against the crypt he was using as a shield from the street. I looked over her, just for a moment. Her face was bloody, tears in her wide eyes, looking up at me in disbelief. I squeezed shut my eyes, I couldn't see her like that. B should never look like that. I spun towards him, watching as he awkwardly pulled his pants up.

"What the hell are you?" He snapped. I refused to even dignify his question, just took five wide steps and took his neck in my hands, and watched his game face come out as I lifted him off the ground. "You are the black Slayer." He wheezed out. "You can have a piece of her when I am done." A growl came from my throat. A fucking growl. Now that was weird. I squeezed tighter, knowing he didn't need to breath, but I knew it hurt like hell. "What is your problem?" He squeaked now, that was the best he could do.

"You are dead." I hissed. I dropped him to his feet, and before he could react, I grabbed his head in my hands, and snapped his neck. He fell down unconscious. He wasn't dead yet. Now I just needed some wood.

"No!" B called out from behind me, when his neck snapped. I turned around. She was still laying on the muddy grass, looking up at me, in something that looked like terror.

"He hurt you." I hissed. "He did that to you." I stepped forward. "He is dust."

"Please, no. Don't." She was crying. "Don't." She fell back to the ground, passed out. I looked at him, and then back to her.

"Fuck!" I threw my hands in the air. Why would she want this piece of shit alive? I let out a huge sigh, and moved to kneel beside her. God, it was horrible what he did to her beautiful face. I knew she would heal by tomorrow, but the pain and blood was there right now. Her shirt was ripped open, and I pulled it closed, and then pulled down her skirt. I was shaking I was so angry, and hurt. Being so close to her, my face was aching, my wrists were sore. Sympathy pains I guess. Well here goes nothing, I thought and scooped her up into my arms. She shifted with a moan, and slipped her arm around my neck. Okay. I.CAN'T.BREATHE. Buffy Summers is in my arms, and her arm is around me and her breath is on my neck. Breathe, Faith. You can do this. I take one step, and then feel it again. The humming is back, strong. I looked down at her face, her closed eyes, and her closed lips. I never realized her eye lashes were so long. I wanted to wipe all the dirt and tears and blood from her face, to see Buffy again. God, she was my every thing. She made a small noise, and it brought me back to my senses. I needed to get her home. I took another step, and another, and I was walking, looking down at her every other step, to make sure she was still there, in my arms. The humming was still there, and it was weird, I felt the strongest since of wholeness in my entire life.

*****

"Actually, someone is coming by, tonight. And I want us all to" Tara began, but couldn't finish. The door was kicked open, and Faith walked through the door. What everyone noticed first off was that in her arms was an unconscious Buffy. A Buffy who was bloody.

"Help." Faith sobbed, locking eyes with Tara. Giles rushed forward immediately to take Buffy from Faith's arms.

"Good Lord, what has happened?" He exclaimed, gingerly touching Buffy's cheek. He glanced up at Faith, his eyes pleading for some sort of answer. Everyone in the room was staring aghast at the two slayers, not seeing that Willow had begun shacking, nor that her eyes were solid black. No one, that is until she hissed,

"You bitch!" And then Faith was flung across the room, slamming into the wall. Everyone could hear the crack of the plaster and the boards. Faith groaned, her eyes closing slowly for a minute, the pain shooting sparks through her body. Xander sprung forward next, his fists finding the stunned Faith's face.

"I am going to kill you!" He hissed, punching her. Faith was still conscious, though her body was killing her. Faith's eyes moved to Buffy, who was awake, and staring at the scene playing out before her in disbelief. She had thought seeing Faith in the cemetery was a dream. If it was a dream why was she in her house, getting beaten by Xander, and slammed with magic by Willow. A bolt of red came from Willow, hitting Faith, who just screamed.

"Stop." Buffy said softly. It was all she could manage. Faith wasn't fighting back either of them, she was just taking it.

"No more!" Tara yelled, and enveloped Faith in a soft blue glow.

Willow snapped her head to look at her partner. Tara just nodded towards Buffy, and Willow was suddenly back, her green eyes shimmering. "God, Buffy, what did she do to you?"

"It wasn't her." Buffy said.

"Then what the hell is going on?" Willow stepped forward to take Buffy's arm. Buffy looked across the room at Faith. Hazel eyes locked onto brown. For an instant no one else existed except for the two of them. Buffy was pleading with Faith, and in turn, Faith was trying to understand why. They both felt something in the look, seeing each other, looking at the other after so much time had past. Faith looked away first.

"Demon." Faith said, licking her lips, tasting the blood.

"Oh," Xander backed away, holding his sprained hand. The hand he sprained on Faith's face. Slowly, her face a mask of indifference, Faith stood. She ran her hands over her jean jacket, the plaster dust scattering.

"You guys still really do know how to welcome a girl." She said, cocking her hip, but began a hacking cough. She lifted her hand to cover her mouth.

"Faith!" Tara exclaimed. She looked down at her hand, and saw what the rest were looking at. Her hand was covered in her own blood. Faith shrugged.

"It's five by five, Blondie. Really." She walked past Xander, trying to meet his eyes, but he was too interested in his shoes. Willow looked apologetic, and really wished that she could find the right thing to say. She, just like the others had assumed the worst. Faith just winked at her, smiling. "It was fun," Faith said, walking through the open door.

Tara was watching Buffy watching Faith. It was as though Buffy thought she was seeing a ghost. Her eyes were round, and her mouth partially open. Her aura was confusing; sorrow, loss, fear, and something else. Tara wondered what had really happened tonight. She had a feeling that Buffy had been going to see Spike. And if Faith had found them together, then Spike was probably dust. Poor Faith, Willow must have really hurt her, Tara moved forward, to make Faith stay, to make sure she was all right. She looked to the doorway. Faith was gone.

*****

"Damn, that hurt." Spike moaned as he rolled over on his side, and then used his arms to push himself up. No one but a Slayer could have broken his neck like that. What was this trollop's game, he wondered. From his recollection this one was out for Buffy and the Scooby's blood. She was the one to terrorize them in the past. What if she had hurt Buffy? Spike was still weak, but he had to make sure that they were all right.

*****

I am a fuck up.

That was one of the dumbest things that I had ever done in my whole miserable life. What was I thinking? Walking into that house, with her in my arms in the condition? Couldn't blame Red for getting her mojo going. At least now I know my suspicions were correct. She was one hell of a witch. I should probably get out of dodge while I still could.

That stare. I would keep that memory with me for a very long time. For once I think that B was completely open, just looking. No pretense, nothing but openness and looking. Yeah, that nearly made being the super flying slayer worth it.

I coughed again. I could feel a broken rib, tickling where it punctured my right lung. It was annoying, but nothing I hadn't felt before. It was all kind of worth it. At least I got that shit off of her. God how I wanted him dust.

I felt my teeth grating against themselves.

*****

"Stop her." Buffy said, pointing out the door.

"Buff, what happened? Do we need Willow to turn her into a toad or something?" Xander asked.

"No Frogs!" Willow squealed.

"Sorry, Wills, no frogs. Maybe a beetle or something like that." He offered up.

"Was that?" Buffy looked at all of them again.

"You really did get knocked around. You missed a perfect opportunity to kick Faith's ass." Xander said.

"You aren't really helping matters, Xander." Giles snapped. "Yes, Buffy that was Faith. I do believe that she was hurt. But first, how are you? Should we take you to the hospital?" Buffy scrunched up her nose.

"No." Buffy said, and then looked at Tara, who was standing outside of the group. "Stop her? Make sure she is okay?" Buffy asked, and Tara nodded. She took her coat from the rack and moved out the door.

"Tara wait." Willow said. "Are you sure you are okay?" She asked Buffy again, who replied with a nod. Willow rushed over to Tara's side. "Let's go." She said, linking arms.

*****

"I am so going to kill you." I hissed, rushing towards the blonde vampire. He moved out of the way. I was in a lot of pain, but was trying to just push it down, forget about it.

"Don't think so. You look like you got rolled pretty good. What when I was out you tried to touch the Slayer? I heard she had a mighty temper when it comes to you." He laughed, the shit. I still didn't have a stake, and couldn't see anything around that would help me in killing him. God! I so didn't want to have to wait to do this. Just do it and leave. Simple as that.

"You should never have touched her." I snapped at him.

"What do you know of it, pet? She wanted it, needed it. Girl like that needs to be controlled."

"You son of a bitch!" I lunged for him, grabbing his jacket and tossing him down the street.

*****

Faith had not gotten far. Willow saw her fighting with Spike just a block away.

"Oh, no." Tara sighed.

"We better hurry, she might hurt Spike. She doesn't know he is harmless." Willow took off in a run.

"Yeah, harmless."

*****

"Faith no!" I stopped, with my leg in mid kick, looking over my shoulder. Red. Great.

"If you want to fill me full of your magic juice, just do it already." I moaned.

"What? My juice? What? Oh. No, no Faith I - listen I shouldn't have done that, it was just, you know Buffy, bloody, Faith, not so bloody, leather pants." Fuck she was babbling. I rolled my eyes and kicked Spike in the face. "Whoa there Slayer!" Willow exclaimed. "Spike is one of us. So no with the kicking of his face."

"One of - oh Fuck it!" I yelled, and turned away from all of them, walking away. This was just fucking ridiculous.

*****

Buffy stepped into her bedroom, feeling better. The shower she had taken had helped. She was enveloped, warm. She noticed Dawn sitting on the edge of her bed, and pulled her robe tighter around her.

"Was it really her?" Dawn asked, looking up at her sister.

"Yes." Buffy said, sitting down beside her. She was still a little shocked herself. Sure, she had known that Faith was still alive, but thought that she would not come back to Sunnydale so soon. Too much was happening right now for her to even want to think about having to deal with Faith.

"She didn't hurt you did she?" Dawn asked.

"No. She didn't" Buffy put her arm around her, holding her. She had been lying there, begging him to stop, just wishing that she had the strength to get him away from her. And then he was gone. Faith had been right there, standing over her. She hadn't been afraid of the other girl, just ashamed. That someone else had witnessed what was happening. Buffy shivered, recalling Faith's eyes as they looked down on her. They were so sad, and so angry. It was the same look she had seen in her own eyes, when she was in Faith's body, in the church, and Faith had been lashing out at herself. Hating herself.

"So is she back? I know that we are all supposed to hate her, but, well maybe she can be good again."

"I don't know Dawn."

"Do you want her to be good?" Dawn looked up, searching her sister's face.

"Of course. I just don't know if her being here is the best thing for her. For any of us." Buffy sighed. What did she want?

*****

This was too crazy! He was one of them. He was one of them? They all came to his defense then, even Tara, who wanted me to come back here and stop him. Just stop him, but don't kill him, cause little Billy isn't a threat. He'd never hurt anyone.

God! Why was it so easy for all of them to embrace these vampires as part of the team, but not me? What was so wrong with me? That must be it, there was something wrong with me, innately that just sent them all full of alarms. I couldn't be part of them, because I was evil.

I groaned, setting my face in my hands as I sat on the wooden bench at the train station. Being away for those months, in another place, I had done nothing but my duty, my destiny. I slayed, I protected the innocent. Hell, I had even come to accept that people, most of them were innocent. They all deserved the chance to live their lives, to be happy and not worry about a vampire following them in the shadows, or some weird little demon scheming to take over the world. I had been doing it right, and felt as strong and sure as I had in those months when I was first called. Couldn't they see that I had changed? I could feel it. I craved the release of the slay, and I craved the confused look of gratitude on the faces of those I saved. It would take something huge, major to get me to go back to my old ways, back to being evil. If I even was capable of it now.

Sure, I was still Faith, cold and a little rude, but I was good.

He wasn't good, was he? I mean he was just a bloodsucker who couldn't suck. That wasn't a get out of Hell free card, was it? None of them wanted him dead, but the same could not be said for me. I just didn't understand it. What could I do?

*****

"Did you? Did she?" Buffy asked, looking into the hall as Willow and Tara walked slowly up the stairs. She was searching their drawn faces looking for the answers to questions she was afraid to voice. After putting Dawn to bed, Buffy had paced her room, wondering what had happened to her. When had she just given up? The old Buffy could have stopped Spike, would have known how to better handle his obsession with her. She was ashamed for not being the same girl she had been before Glory came to Sunnydale. Buffy was scared. Scared that Faith would kill Spike, and that Spike might kill Faith. She didn't want either of them dead. And that was a revelation to her. A roller coaster of emotions besieged her when it came to Faith. When she thought that the girl was dead, so much had been clearer. She knew how she had felt then. It had been easy to do, the whole forgiveness thing. But now, Faith was flesh and blood, a slayer, and here. And Buffy was so confused.

"We found them." Willow said sadly.

"B-both of them." Tara added.

"So they are both?" Buffy asked, her eyes rounding.

"She didn't k-k-kill him, Buffy. We asked her not to." Tara said, and Buffy slumped her shoulders in relief. "But she wanted to." Tara added. Buffy nodded.

"Where is she?"

"Faith stormed off." Willow said.

"You didn't stop her?"

"Um, Buffy, she's a Slayer. I can't just pick her up and bring her home over my shoulder." Willow said.

"Right." What had she thought? That Faith would have come back here, to her house? Especially after the display in the living room. Was that what Buffy had wanted? Faith to be here, in her house, talking to her? Yes! It was.

"I-I think she is g-g-going to leave." Tara said, and then walked down the hall to the bedroom. Willow watched her go, and then shrugged to Buffy.

"She's a little upset with you I think."

"I said some not so nice things to her earlier." Buffy mumbled.

"Oh." Willow looked confused. Who would say something mean to Tara? Buffy could read the questioning looked on her best friend's face.

"I will say I am sorry in the morning, it's been a long night." Buffy said.

"Right." Willow followed Tara into their bedroom.

*****

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Dawn rolled over, some noise having woken her. She slowly opened her eyes, seeing a shadow outside her window. She let out a little shriek, and the shadow started moving its arms. She squinted, peering closer. What on earth? She wondered. Dawn slipped out of her bed, and opened the window.

"Spike?" She whispered.

"Hey, little bit." He smiled at her.

"What are you doing here?" She asked, he looked terrible, his face puffy, an eye swollen. His coat was even ripped in some places. "And what happened to you?"

"I just need to check on Big Sis." He said.

"Yeah, she came home totally beat up." She watched him cringe. "What happened?"

"Oh, it was that dark one. You know, that evil Slayer." Spike said.

"Faith? But, Buffy said."

"Maybe she was covering for her, little bit. I only know that she attacked me, and maybe attacked Buffy too. I am worried that she'll come back to finish what she started."

"Buffy lied?" Dawn looked worried.

"Guess so. Come on. Let me in. No one can stop that girl, no one but me."

"I don't know, Spike, she said I couldn't invite you in."

"Come on, luv. I am here to protect her." He pleaded.

"Come in Spike." Dawn sighed. His feral grin spread over his face as he slipped through her open window.

*****

I spun around quickly. How had I ended up in here? Last thing I remembered was sitting on the bench, but now I was here, in her room. Oh.

"Faith?" I slowly turned around, seeing her sitting on the edge of the bed, wearing her red leather pants, looking wicked sexy. But I wasn't sure how long we would have, and I didn't feel like messing around anymore. Cautiously I took a step forward. I kneeled in front of her, looking up into her eyes. I knew this was a dream, but she looked so perfect sitting there. The perfect mixture of light and dark. I took a deep breath, feeling her close, smelling her.

"Whaddya stop me for B?" I asked.

"He didn't mean it."

"Looked like to me your face thought he meant it." I snapped. I wanted to get inside of her head, kick her around and make her understand that I knew. I knew what she was feeling.

"He's not completely evil." She looked away from me, at her hands, moving the fingers, entwining, then separating. I set my hand on top of hers, feeling, even here, a spark of something racing through me at just the touch of her skin. "He loves me."

"That was not love, B. No one would do that to some one they love." I stood up, looking down on her.

"Oh really, F? I seem to remember you beating the hell out of me." Angry, but whispered.

"That was," I stopped. She was right. I had done terrible things to her. I was no better than him. I turned. I couldn't look at her. My God, she was right.

"Faith." I heard her voice, but couldn't turn back.

"I," trying to speak, but I was so angry, I couldn't. "You're right." I sighed. I wanted to wake up, I needed to wake up. I didn't want to have to think like this here.

"Sorry." She said from behind me. I heard the sound of the bed rising as she stood.

"Don't ever say that to me, Buffy. You have nothing to be sorry for."

"I think I do."

"No." I looked over my shoulder, locking eyes with her. "No. I am the one who is sorry, for everything. I should never have come back."

"Why did you?" Her hand on my shoulder, and I felt like I was going to die.

"He was hurting you. I, I.."

"It's okay. I understand."

"I won't be here when you wake up." I moved away from her, the guilt was in me, swirling, dancing the with need I felt to just take her in my arms and keep her safe. From everything, from them, the world, me.

"Don't." She said softly. "Don't go."

"Why?" If I looked at her, I wouldn't be able to stop myself. I would have to hold her. She wanted me to stay? That made no sense.

"Just, don't go yet." I turned to see her, she looked so sad, and I wondered, what did I look like to her?

Like a snap I was back in my body, awake. I looked around, but it was all still quiet here. I stood and stretched. I would stay, but just until we talked, and face-to-face.

Could I really do this? See her? Did I deserve to?

*****

Wet. Soft. Forceful.

Am I dreaming again, Buffy thought to herself? She had just been in the dream with Faith, talking, asking her to stay. It seemed like when they were there, outside of all the chaos of reality, it was so much easier to just be. To let go. Forget that she was supposed to hate her, forget everything but the two of them there. Buffy felt the bed underneath her, the pressure of someone half resting on her body. Lips on hers.

"Faith?" She asked, moving her lips aside gently.

"What?" Spike groaned, moving away from her. Buffy's eyes opened wide. Shock and then anger washed over her. She had hoped that, what? What was she thinking? Was she hoping that she was waking up to her?

"Spike." She pushed him away and sat up, clutching her blanket to her chest. "What are you doing here?"

"Making sure you are alright." He said, not moving from where he was sitting. Buffy let out a light laugh.

"Right. Sure Spike." He was looking at her, pleading with her. "Am I okay?"

"Well are you luv? That little bitch was really on a roll."

"Do you know how close you came to being nothing?" Buffy asked, feeling another wash of guilt over what she had let happen between them over the course of a few weeks.

"But you stopped her." He smiled. "I know things have gotten out of hand, Buffy."

"Out of hand?" She was feeling better. Stronger. Maybe the clarity of the situation was here now, after seeing the looks in everyone's eyes. After seeing how far they would have gone to protect her. Buffy felt a pang of remorse. Her family was willing to kill for her to be safe, when she was just letting it happen. "This has got to stop."

"Buffy, I love you." He sighed.

"I know you do. In your own sad way you do, and you think that what you were doing was okay. I mean, how could you not. I never stopped you." She leaned forward. "I should have stopped you."

"How can you stop loving someone? You can't control that. It's like something stronger than yourself. You have no choice." Buffy tilted her head to the side, studying this demon, this vampire who bragged that he had killed two Slayers in his time. He had seen lifetimes in his travels, and understood humans, probably better than he thought he did. And he was right. Buffy knew, the words rolling around inside of her head that he was right. She nodded to him. But held up her hand as he came forward to embrace her. He had misunderstood.

"I don't love you."

"But."

"No buts. This has to stop. It is killing me, William." She sighed.

"Is it her?" He asked, standing and moving towards the window. He looked back over at Buffy, looking so small in her big bed. "She would kill for you. But so would I, if I could."

"That isn't currency that should buy my heart," she sounded so sullen. Did he think that she loved Faith? How could she love Faith? There was so much history between them, so much hate and rage. Could either of them see past that? Could they ever be anything other than enemies? Did she want them to be? She must have, she had just asked the other girl to stay.

"What does it take then? Tell me and I will do it."

"I don't know. I can't tell you what would make me love you. It's just like you said, you can't control it."

"Why did you stop her?" He asked.

"You are a good man, well, as close to a man as you can get. But you are good Spike. I don't know if it is the chip, or something else. I see you with Dawn, and I can just see the goodness in you." Buffy smiled at him, "I can't just let that end here, now, because I made a mistake." He looked at her questioningly.

"This." She moved her hand between them. "It wasn't right. You were hurting me, using me, trying to possess me and make me feel for you. I should have stopped it. I tried to stop it. But, it was almost easier to just ignore it. Let it happen."

"I am a little aggressive when it comes to things I want." He chuckled. "I didn't mean to hurt you, pet, not really."

"I know."

"It's over then." He asked.

"Yes."

"Are you sure?" He asked, and she glared at him. "Okay, Slayer, okay." He smiled, and then slipped out of the window, and into the early morning light.

*****

Willow was sipping her morning coffee, standing and staring at the huge hole that was now in the living room wall. Last night none of them had the energy to clean up the mess, and so it was just left. Plaster dust on the carpet, and a few drops of now rust colored blood. Faith's blood.

Willow shook her head. What had she been thinking, getting completely out of control and doing that? Well she knew what she was thinking. Short little words had been flashing through her head. Buffy. Blood. Faith. No blood. Her head and heart had moved to the only possible conclusion. Faith was back and evil and she had hurt Buffy. Simple reasoning. But the red head still felt terrible. She knew Faith had changed. She trusted in Tara, her words and actions. Plus the memories from the spell. She just didn't want to truly believe that something else, some random bad creature could hurt Buffy like that. She was the Slayer, invincible. Willow grinned at herself.

"The girl has died twice, she's not invincible." She chuckled.

"I resent that!" Buffy said from behind her. "If you haven't noticed, I do come back. Much like a bad penny." Willow turned, glad to see that Buffy looked fine. Not a mark on her. Buffy whistled. "Man, that girl sure does make a big hole." She shook her head, smiling.

"There's coffee ready." Willow said.

"Hurray!" Buffy moved into the kitchen. Willow looked back at the wall. "Has she been by yet?" Buffy called out.

"Who?" Willow asked, following the Slayer into the kitchen.

"Faith." Buffy took a sip of the coffee and sighed.

"Buffy, I think she is gone. She told us she was leaving on the first train." Willow sat at the counter.

"Nope." Willow raised an eyebrow. "Slayer dream. She isn't going. Yet." Buffy sat down next to her best friend. "Wills, what do I do? Do I fight her? Send her away with a never come back complementary bumper sticker?"

"Not my call Buffy." Willow said softly. Happy that at least Buffy was considering options other than killing Faith.

"But what would you do?" Buffy whined.

"Not my call." Willow said again. What all of this really boiled down to was the two Slayers, what they wanted.

"But you, and Xander, even Giles still have issues with her. I don't feel like it is fair for me to make a decision like this."

"You know what ever you decide we will all agree to. Maybe not all gung-ho at first, but we will eventually." Willow smiled, and squeezed Buffy's hand.

"I guess so."

"Maybe we should all get together. The whole Scooby Gang. You know, talk it over, and let her say what she wants to say. I mean if that is what you want." Willow studied Buffy, the way she looked down at the counter, seeming lost in thought. What she wouldn't give to peak inside of that head. "A meeting might be good, we can see what she wants." Willow thought for a moment. "Maybe Faith doesn't want to stay. Have you asked her?"

"No, I just thought, well, 'cause, erm, well you know," Buffy blushed.

"Buffy, you think just because she-" Buffy raised her hand.

"I know. Stuck up, snobbish thoughts. Sorry. You're right. She might not want to stay here. Memories of this place cannot be happy ones for her."

*****

“Wicked freaky, huh?” Faith asked as she walked up next to Buffy. She was standing between their graves, looking at them. Seeing their names etched in the rock. “Never thought I would see our graves from this side.”

Each girl had sensed the other off and on throughout the day, as they nearly crossed paths. She had felt the strange humming, and knew that Faith was getting close. It was different than before. They had been able to sense one another, but only when they were concentrating on it. Now it was like there was no turning it on or off. Just this weird warm humming. Buffy had come here to think, clear her head.

“Yeah.” Buffy said, turning to look at Faith. Head to toe in black, though denim, not leather. Probably because it was hot today. Faith had taken a beating last night, but she looked refreshed and healthy now. They both looked at one another for a moment. This had been a long time in coming. The Chosen Two, standing together. Faith looked away first, she always did. They were standing shoulder to shoulder now. “Do you hear it?”

“The humming? Yeah. Wasn’t sure what it was last night. I guess it’s my Slayer radar or something.” Faith shrugged. Waiting. Then she spoke again. “Can you feel it, as well as hear it?”

“Kind of. It’s like a tingling. Like when your foot goes to sleep.”

“Exactly!” Faith said with a smile. “The weirdness never stops with the two of us.” She said. “About last night, I,”

“No, Faith, I am sorry. I shouldn’t have said that to you.”

“It was the truth, no harm in saying that.” Faith sighed. “I guess I was just so angry at him, for seeing what he was doing to you.” Buffy started to blush, Faith had seen a lot. “I went postal I guess. He, I wanted him dead. So dead.” She looked at Buffy. “But I didn’t think, I didn’t realize that I had been exactly the same.”

"I am just amazed that you cared enough to-" Faith’s brows furrowed, and Buffy stopped. She didn’t want to go there, not yet. It was too soon, and Buffy herself wasn’t ready to even begin thinking about Faith in that way, any way. Not yet. Neither girl knew where they stood. They were both here to find out. “You helped, Faith. Really. You never did, well, what I mean, erm thank you for stopping him.”

Faith wanted to ask Buffy if she loved him, but knew it wasn’t her place to ask, or even know. So she just waited. Then they were both quiet. “Here.” Faith held out her hand to Buffy, and the older girl looked down. “You might be needing this back.”

“Mr. Oh, you found it?” Buffy asked, taking her beloved stake back into her hands. It fit so well. It was made for her. And Faith had found it. Faith had used it. Buffy looked up at those brown eyes, wondering what she should say. She really was at a loss. When she had buried Faith, or whoever those ashes once were she had allowed herself to grieve. Allowed her self to say goodbye, and to move on. All of her hopes, her dreams for what could have been between them were buried here as well. And now, Faith was standing beside her, alive, flesh and blood.

"It was so easy to forgive when you thought I was dead, huh?" Faith asked softly. She was fighting to keep the sadness from her voice. Buffy didn’t need to deal with that.

"What else could I do? You were gone. I hoped that you were at peace." Buffy tried to smile, but she was still confused. Faith was right, it was easier, to forgive when you think that it is all over, that nothing else could ever happen to hurt you like you were hurt then.

"But now we’re back huh? You hate me." Faith shoved her hands in her pockets, shoulders slumping, preparing her body to hear the words she was dreading.

“I don’t know if we can ever go back, Faith.”

“Huh?”

“It’s changed, all of it. See, it’s like, when I say goodbye, officially to someone. I accept that they are gone, and there is nothing to do to bring them back. I make peace with it. I say goodbye.” Buffy smiled softly. “And they always come back.” Faith shrugged. How could she answer that? “We can’t go back to me hating you and you hating me I think. Maybe we both did get past that, when we made peace. Did you say goodbye to me Faith? Did you forgive me when I was dead?”

“There was nothing there to forgive.”

“Come on, Faith. I stabbed you, put you in a coma. Beat the shit out of you. Not to mention treating you like trash the whole time you were here.”

“You didn’t have a choice in the matter. Right? See,” Faith cocked her hip, relaxing. This was the old Faith standing before her. Confident. Strong. “It was meant to be like that. I get that. I’m okay with it. Destiny. Makes sense. Really. So listen, B, there is nothing to forgive. Not to me. But if it’ll help you, then I forgive you Buffy. I do.” She said, without vehemence, without leering. She was just being honest.

“You are supposed to wait for me to tell you that I am sorry before you forgive me.” Buffy chided. That got the desired effect. Faith grinned, her dimpled cheek. She looked so young.

“You know me, B, not one to wait around.”

“Action girl.”

“The one and only. Talkin' is for the Tweeds. Not me.” Buffy set her hand on Faith’s arm, but the other girl’s face fell and she stepped back. Her eyes met Buffy’s. “Sorry, B.” She grinned, but it wasn’t much. Buffy had forgotten how much the other girl disliked being touched, even in a friendly gesture.

“Are you still hurt?”

“Naw, five by five.” She crossed her arms. “So, what do we do now? I can hear the wheels spinnin’ in there.” She pointed to Buffy’s head.

“I was thinking, a meeting, with the gang.” Faith rolled her eyes.

“Boy, there was a tough one to spot from a thousand miles away.” Faith groaned. Buffy looked at her, waiting. “Fine. Sure. Oh boy.” Faith fidgeted on her feet. “The whole redemption thing is kinda okay, it’s just the whole, look at me, I am sorry, please don’t zap me with your magic of pain got kinda old last night.”

“Willow will not zap you. Unless you deserve it.” Buffy added.

“Gotcha. You know your little band of pirates has upgraded in the time that I have been away.”

“Pirates?”

“Figure of speech, B. You really have a strong group.”

“Do you want to stay here Faith?” Buffy asked.

“If you want me, B, I’ll stay.” Faith smiled, then winked. Buffy did not miss the innuendo. She welcomed it. It was playful, light. She could deal with that. “Can I ask you something? I know I don’t really have the right to know. So you can totally tell me no.”

“What?”

“Everyone was saying you were stuck in Hell, right. That was why they brought you back and everything.” Buffy swallowed, but kept her face expressionless. “But Angel, when he came back from hell, he was all animalistic, and primal. Ya know, you were there. After a while he got better, back to how he was before right?” Faith waited, and Buffy nodded slowly. “But B, something isn’t jiving with your story. Cause, there is something wrong with you, and I, it’s just that, I feel.” Faith closed her eyes tightly, and took a breath. Buffy wished that she could, but she was afraid to breath, afraid to move. Slowly Faith’s eyes opened, and she looked Buffy up and down, slowly. “Buffy, where were you?”

*****

Later. She said fucking later! Okay, later was better than one of a million ways she could have killed me then for stepping over the line and asking her that. And I could read her body, her face. I had stepped over the line.

It had been kinda going well to. God, my stupid big mouth. But I had to know. That was the first real time I had stood next to her for years. And it had felt like the whole world had changed, but nothing had at the same time between us.

As we were talking that annoying humming went away, or we learned to ignore it. It was just comfortable. Me and her, standing in a cemetery, talking. Out loud. Not in a dream, but really talking.

After I asked her, and she croaked out “Later” we decided to meet at the Magic Shop later tonight, so I could get on my hands and knees and beg the gang for forgiveness. I left the cemetery, walking back to the roach motel where I was staying, thinking about what would happen later. If I thought about B, I would turn back and find her and demand she tell me what made her eyes so cold, demand where she had been, and demand what I needed to do to fix it. But that wasn’t going to happen. This was B, and she knew what she needed. If she needed Spike, okay. I could live with that, as long as he never hit her again, unless she asked him to. Bondage helps spice things up, so okay. But nothing else. She was The Slayer, besides the fact that she had half my soul bouncing around inside her. I felt I had the right to tell her that I would not let him hurt her again. I wanted to say that today, but I was hoping more for reconciliation, not a fight. So later I would tell her. Then she could kick my ass.

Okay, Faith. Think. You have to come up with some big ol speech for later. They need to know you changed. Okay, palms are sweating. I wanted to do this when I was here before, what was this big deal now? Oh, that’s right, before B was dead and I didn’t care if they wanted me back or not. Now B was alive and she wanted me here, at least that was the impression I was getting from her. So I needed to have them forgive me.

But how could they? I mean, I was really wicked evil. I was like the most evil Slayer in history. Shit, the Tweeds were going to write books about how evil I was. I’m known for being evil. Hello, do the good guys coat themselves in Crisco to pull on leathers? Black leathers at that? Nope. I sighed, opening the door to my room. This was so going to suck.

*****

The bell sounded over the door to the Magic Shop. Eyes turned to take in the sight of Faith slinking down the steps. And that was what the woman was doing. Dressed in tight leather pants, a wife beater and a leather jacket. Her makeup was dark, and applied heavily. Her hair had been styled, some waves and curls around her shoulders. She radiated power, control, and sex to everyone in the room. They all had been apprehensive, but most had expected a meek Faith, walking in with her head bowed, ashamed. That was not happening here. She held the room. Spike felt him self caught up in staring at her, like he was a cobra to her song.

A growl, deep and low, shocking everyone came out of her chest, focused directly at him. Oh, this was going to get messy, the vampire thought.

*****

What in the hell was he doing here? And what was with this crazy growling? Somewhere along the lines did I become this like half cat person or something? Weird.

I looked over all of them as I walked closer. Man, thank god for the lack of flies. Mouths were open. Which was kinda the plan. I mean, I spent most of my afternoon thinking, and I realized. Sure I am sorry, and I want to do good, but come on. I am still Faith, right? I can’t change who I am, not even for B. So I can live with that. Being Faith, and being good. It was their problem if they couldn’t.

Tara gave me a smile, and I winked at her. Then I rolled my eyes over Xander, no point in stopping there, he was looking at the tits. That’s cool; I’d be looking too. But B, looking at her, and they all seem to just disappear. All of them, even Spike. It’s just her, and me and I am trying to send out to her all of my strength, all my support. She can have it all if she needs it. I am doing this for her.

“Hey, B.” I nod to her. She licks her bottom lip, and I swear to God I felt my body jump. Wow!

“Faith.” She said, slowly, her eyes moving over my body, looking at every inch. I was hoping for this, but I didn’t know it would make my cheeks flush when she did it. I needed to get back in control of this. It was Faith’s turn to drive.

*****

“So I guess I should start, huh?” She said, moving around the room, slowly, watching all of them. Tara really hoped that this would go well. She was worried about Faith, and knew how important it was for someone, especially the Slayer to have a support system. It was difficult trying to save the world if one was alone doing it. “First, thanks for coming, I guess. And not greeting me with the fireworks again.” She looked at Willow, and smiled softly. Tara knew that Faith, and everyone understood the reactions that they had displayed last night.

“Are you alright, Faith?” Giles asked.

“Sure, G-man. Nothing a couple hours sleep didn’t put right.” She shrugged. “Anyways, like I was saying. Must be wicked odd to see me,” she ran her hands down her sides, “the big bad Faith walking and talking. I know you all heard I was dead.” She moved closer to the table where they were sitting. “Sorry ‘bout that. See, I didn’t have a lot of choice in it.” She winked at Giles, and then set her hands on the table. Willow jumped a little. “But, see there was some choice when I was back here before. Oh, wait.” She stood up again and walked away, then turned. “You all knew that I was the one running around taking out the dragon, and the sloth demon and the other nastiness that escaped from the Hell dimensions right?” Xander nodded. A nod for the whole group. “Good. Like I was saying, I wanted to get you all together then, to have this little talk.” She leaned against the counter, crossing her arms over her chest. Faith had each of their undivided attention. They were hanging on her every word and movement; apprehensive, because she was not letting anything out, no hints. They had no idea what she was going to do. And so she waited, looking them over again, stopping to stare at Spike a little harder, a little meaner than she probably should have. Faith shrugged her shoulders. “See the thing is,” she stopped, and looked down at the ground for a moment. Tara was guessing that she was composing herself. This could not be easy for her. If the roles were reversed, Tara didn’t think she would have the strength to stand in front of this group of people and apologize. She would run screaming, avoiding all of them instead. Faith shot her head up. “I am sorry.” She held up her hands and stepped forward. “That doesn’t fix anything. I mean, it shouldn’t. The things that I did, they aren’t the kinds of things that you can fix with three words. I did a lot of things wrong, I know that now, and I kinda knew it then. I just didn’t want to stop. I couldn’t stop. But the rush, the feeling of doing something, and getting patted on the head like a good little dog. You can’t imagine what that meant to me. I don’t want to make excuses for what I did, you would never understand anyway,” she grinned.

“We read these.” Xander said sharply, and tossed the journals onto the round table. Tara grabbed Willow’s arm, she wasn’t expecting him to do that. They all watched Faith. Her face fell, her eyes softened. Tara was sure she saw her eyes begin to sparkle, like tears were forming, but then she recovered. Like a switch was flipped inside of her, and her face was a mask of indifference.

“Ooookay.” She dragged out, tapping her finger on the table looking down at the books, she gently touched one. “Kinda ruins the whole speech I had going.” She mumbled.

“So were they all lies?” Xander asked, leaning forward, he appeared to be trying to intimidate her, puffing himself up. But Tara figured in truth he was scared and confused.

“Why would I lie to myself? No point in that really.” She stood crossing her arms over her chest. “So are we going to have a pity party then? Poor Faith, her step daddy fucked her, that’s why she is so evil?”

*****

Silence.

It was painful. It physically hurt me.

Xander had gone pale, and was staring at me.

Anya, I think that was her name, was looking knowingly, her head moving slowly up and down.

Tara’s head was bent down, looking at her hands.

Red was open-mouthed.

Giles was looking at his tea, like he expected it to do something.

Spike was even looking off put.

And B.

Her eyes were wide, surprised? But, I thought. Tears were filling them now, her eyes appeared a darker green, and she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth.

They did not know.

So this was it, then. The real moment of truth. Fight or Flight.

*****

Buffy was struck dumb. She felt like she had been hit over the back of the head with something. What was there that she could say? Or even do? She watched Faith as she tensed up, knowing that look.

Faith was going to run.

*****

Fuck it!

*****

Her shoulders dropped.

“I guess you didn’t read everything then, huh?” She asked Xander. Looking down at the books, and then back over the room. “Listen. None of that matters. It really doesn’t, okay? So close the mouths.” Faith snapped.

“Faith, I,” Buffy stepped forward.

“Really, everybody. Get over it. It is not important right now, okay?” She said backing up.

“Then what is?” Buffy asked.

“I want to tell you guys I am sorry. I am completely filled with all of this guilt and this remorse. The memory of what I did, to all of you.” She stopped, looking at Anya, “Well most of you,” and Anya smiled, “that’s going to stay with me forever, and it should. See I am not asking you guys to forget everything. I am not even asking you to forgive it. Just I think that I, I” Faith looked at Buffy again. “I think I am supposed to be here, fighting the good fight, and I can’t do that with all this tension between us. So I guess, that’s it.” She scrunched her forehead. “I am sorry, and I want to stay.” She grasped her hands together, looking over the group again.

Buffy was thrilled that she hadn’t run out of the room. That had taken strength, and determination. Buffy was proud.

“Yes, very good Faith.” Giles said. “Does anyone have anything to say?” he looked over the group.

“Did you hurt Buffy last night?” the voice came from upstairs, and every one turned to see Dawn sitting there. She had been so quiet through it all, she had been forgotten. Buffy looked to Faith, who looked like she had been struck.

“What?” She breathed. “Dawn, I - God, no!” Faith’s voice was so scared sounding, it seemed like it should have been coming from someone else.

“Dawnie, who told you that?” Buffy asked looking up at her sister.

“Well, um, Spike said.” She began but stopped as Faith lunged forward. Spike jumped back, raising his arms.

"Sorry, listen I was-"

“You son of a bitch. How dare you even try to,”

“Faith!” Buffy called, and the younger Slayer stopped in her tracks, dropping her arms to her sides. She clenched her jaw. “Dawn, honey. Spike was just confused. He was just making sure that I was okay.” Buffy said, and Faith scoffed under her breath and got shot daggers from Buffy.

“She’s right little one. I was wrong. Faith here would never hurt Buffy like that.” Spike said, meaning each word.

“If she did all those things before.” Dawn whined.

“But never again.” Buffy said, looking at Faith who nodded.

“How can we be sure?” Dawn asked.

“Right.” Xander walked over. “Sure she’s sorry now, but how do we know that she won’t get all upset and want to kill us all again.”

“Hello! Still in the fucking room!” Faith snapped.

“Well why don’t you get out then!” He said back, stepping into her space, looking down on her.

“Listen, just cause I won’t hit you back does not give you the right to get in my face.” Faith said glaring up at him.

“Enough, guys. Stop!” Buffy pleaded.

“No, Buff, how do we know she won’t do it again? I am not sure I can live with making that mistake.” Xander said.

“It’s not your choice!” Willow said, standing up. “God, are you blind?” She asked, clearly furious at him.

“I don’t trust her.” Dawn said from above.

“No, Dawn, we just need to let some time.” Giles spoke up.

“ENOUGH!” Faith yelled, and everyone froze. “Fuck,” she mumbled under her breath, eyes moving over the group. “You all hash this out, and then B, you let me know. Okay?” Faith turned and began walking away; she was up the steps, when she felt Buffy’s hand on her arm. Both of them stopped, looking at where their skin touched. Then they met glances. That was weird, they both thought.

“Where will you be?” Buffy asked.

“Where you want me?” Faith replied.

“Patrol? An hour?” Buffy asked. Faith looked over her shoulder at the group, still bickering. She smiled.

“Take two. I think you might be needing it.”

“Okay.” Buffy said, but didn’t take her hand of Faith’s arm. Her skin was so warm; she could feel it through the leather coat. And she smelled so good. Buffy still couldn’t figure out what those fragrances were, just that it was pure Faith.

“Um, B?”

“Hmm?”

“Arm? Kinda need it to come with me.”

“Right. Sorry.” Buffy shook her head, clearing her thoughts away.

*****

“Well, that is disturbing.” Wesley said as he cradled the phone. He looked over at Cordelia who was filing her nails.

“What?” She asked, not looking up.

“Giles, asking for a book. Um, he happened to mention that Faith was back in Sunnydale.”

“Oops.” Cordelia sat up and reached for the phone.

“Oops?” Wesley looked confused.

“Oops as in Angel wanted to know the minute she was back.”

“I was under the impression that she was, well dead.” He said flatly.

“Where have you been?” She asked, punching numbers. “She never died, the Council just locked her away or something.”

“Good Lord.”

“You really are out of the loop. Damn, voicemail.” She rolled her eyes, waiting for the beep. “Angel, it’s me. Listen. Faith’s back.”

*****

Buffy was loading her jacket with supplies for the night. She felt relieved. The group had argued some more, but just as Willow had predicted, the group was ready to follow Buffy’s lead. They would accept Faith back into the group, pending any acts of pure evilness. Tara was beaming the whole time. She was the one who had wanted this from the beginning, and Buffy was glad. She knew that with all of her baggage, she wouldn’t have been so quick to extend this olive branch to Faith. Now she just needed to figure out what she was going to do now. This step had been hard, but all the next steps, and the next days would be harder. Getting past what had happened, and moving on. Buffy just kept telling herself that if she had been able to let go when she thought Faith was dead, this would be even better. Because now she could see Faith, doing good, being happy.

“Buffy?” She turned, tucking the newly reacquired Mr. Pointy in the back of her pants. Spike was standing in the doorway of the training room.

“Hey.”

“Sorry about what I told the little one.”

“You wanted to get into the house. I get it.” Buffy said, walking towards the door.

“Not just that. I was worried. I wasn’t quite sure if she was out to protect you or not.” He said, and she gave him a sided glance. “Okay, and I wanted to get into the house.” He confessed.

“I have to go.” She motioned for him to move out of the way.

“I know. Listen, I am leaving for awhile.” She stopped, looking up at him. “I know we had a nice girly talk last night. But I can’t stay here. I need to get away, you know, clear out the cobwebs and all that.” He set his hand on her shoulder. “‘Sides, I really think you need no distractions like me hanging around.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” She asked.

“Means, pet, I think there are a lot of choices you have to make, and you don’t need me around influencing you.” She looked at him, searching his face. What did he mean? “You will get it, eventually. So, until I see you again. Take care.” He said, and squeezed her shoulder. Then Spike walked away.

*****

“Just like old times, huh B?” I hissed as I took a swing at the vampire in front of me.

“Nothing like relieving those high school days.” Buffy said from behind me. It was crazy. I was waiting for her in the cemetery, quiet as a mouse, and then these five vamps drop down on us, just as I was about to say hi. Talk about rude. I lunged forward with my stake, and he was gone. I twirled it in my fingers. “Hey, that’s my move!” Buffy said, looking over the vampire’s shoulder. She punched him hard, knocking him to the ground.

“Maybe, but I perfected it.” I said, smiling. We had dusted all of them but the one she was toying with. “Gonna finish soon? I am starting to get wicked hungry.” I said walking away.

“Hey, no fair. I had three you just had two!” She kicked him in the face. Man I loved watching her work. She really knew how to come alive. She was The Slayer. The best there ever was, and probably ever would be.

“Mine were bigger.” I called out, still moving away.

“Bigger and dumber.” She mumbled. God she was cute.

“I heard that.” I shouted. “Come on B.” I hopped in place. “Just stake him.”

“Fine.” She snapped, and moved forward, and poof. He was gone. “I was trying to burn off that hamburger I had for lunch.” My stomach rumbled at the mention of food.

“You are killing me here.” I said clutching my gut. She walked over to me, slapping my arm.

“Oh, please. You can wait.” She said.

“Wait for what?” I asked. We got them all. Poof, bye bye gone. Why’d I have to wait?

“Dontcha wanna talk? About what happened after you left?” She asked, sitting down on a bench. I sat down next to her, making sure there was enough room. I did not need to accidentally touch her thigh. Not after slaying.

“Naw. I talked enough today.”

“You don’t want to know?”

“B, come on. If they had given me the boot, you would have told me already.” I said smiling. “So I am guessing that it is okay for me to hang around, but they will be keeping an eye on me.” I changed my voice at the end to sound like Giles. She giggled. Man. Giggled.

“Something like that.”

“So, then we don’t need to talk about that.” I said clasping my hands. There was something else I really wanted to talk about though. “Buffy, is it later yet?” I watched her as she turned to face me, bringing her knees around, and they were touching mine. Sparks!

“Faith, I” I shot up.

“It’s cool B. Really. I was just worried about you, ya know. But if you don’t want to talk about it, then it is fine.” I looked around us, sensing nothing. It was just the two of us here. “We should probably get going, more places to patrol.” I said, turning back to her. But she was looking at her hands.

“I was in heaven.” Just a whisper. Did she just say that? No, she hadn’t said that? Cause that would mean that she was really supposed to be dead, and that she was happy there, and she was pulled back here to all of this, and,

“Buffy?” I asked, moving back to her, trying to see her face, but her hair was hanging, covering it. She wasn’t talking. B not talking isn’t a good sign. I kneeled on the grass in front of her, and took her hands. “Buffy?” She was crying. I could feel it, her shoulders shacking. I stood, pulling her with me, and wrapped my arms around her back tightly, pressing my face into her hair. I ran my hand over her back, feeling her sigh deeply. Holding her tightly I was only thinking of how could I ease her pain, make her feel better, and understand. “Buffy, I am so sorry. I, I didn’t know.” I whispered into her hair. She slowly raised her head looking at me. Her eyes were so hurt, so sad.

“Only Tara knows. I can’t, the others they can’t know.” She was crying harder now, shaking in my arms. “Promise me Faith, you won’t tell them.”

“I promise B.” I said, taking the back of my hand and wiping away some of the tears, but they kept coming. “What can I do? Is there anything?”

“No. I.” She stepped away from me, and I only let her go because I could see that she was going to be okay. I felt cold, where she had been touching me. “It was so peaceful there. So calm and happy. I - it was perfect.”

“Heaven is supposed to be.” I smiled at her, hoping she would stop crying. She smiled back.

“When I came back here, everything was so hard, and loud, and angry and cold.” She sat back down. But I needed to stay where I was, if I got too close I would pull her into my arms again. “Nothing felt the same.” She looked up at me, and blushed. Why was she blushing? “That’s a lie. I don’t want to start off again lying. I did feel something, like a little bit of calm the first time I was with Spike.”

“But not after the first time?” I asked, wanting to kill him again. Just breath through the jealousy Faith.

"I only, um, well-"

“Gotcha. You only came the first time.” I said calmly, not making it sound lewd, or tawdry, just as it was.

“Right. So I only felt that tiny echo of what heaven had been like that night with him, oh and when.” She stopped, and looked me right in the eyes. That freaked me out. I took a step back, but didn’t look away. I was done looking away first. Damnit. I would be strong and not let B turn me into a bowl of Jell-O with just a look. She looked away. “That doesn’t matter now I guess.”

“Do you know why you came back?” I asked.

“You wanted me back.” She smiled.

“I wanted you free from hell. If I would have known you where in heaven,” she stood up.

“I know Faith.” She took my hand in hers. “I didn’t get any memo from the Powers or anything if that was what you were wondering.”

“You have to be back for a reason though, right? They wouldn’t just pull you back down here, just for fun.” I reasoned. I felt the squeeze, and looked down at my hand. She was holding my hand. Oh, man. Buffy was holding my hand. Wait no. This was only for emotional support. This had nothing to do with anything else. I am being a good friend. A good friend that so want to kiss her right now.

*****

Buffy followed Faith’s eyes, down to their hands that where clasped tightly together. Buffy had done that out of impulse. When she had been in Faith’s arms she had felt so safe, and so warm. It was like being held meant so much more than it ever had before. She wanted to feel that again, and so subconsciously her hand had reached out. She wondered what the other girl was thinking. Hearing that you helped pull someone out of heaven could not be a happy day making event.

Faith raised her eyes, looking into Buffy’s, and then her gaze fell lower, to her lips. Buffy’s heart jumped. Faith was looking at her lips. Faith wanted to kiss her. She felt a heat in her chest, as Faith looked into her eyes again. The deep brown was even darker than normal, and her expression was completely open. It dawned on Buffy that she had never once heard Faith speak those three words, but she could see it in her eyes. Faith loved Buffy completely, unconditionally. It was enough to take her breath away.

*****

She knows what I want. She can see it. She can feel it. Oh, god. She is blushing. I slowly ran my tongue over my bottom lip, just out of habit. What would she do? If I just leaned forward and kissed her, would she hit me?

*****

Buffy was transfixed; there was nothing in the world anymore. Nothing but her and Faith, and Faith leaning forward, bringing those full red lips closer to hers. She was wondering what it would feel like, having them on her, she wondered how they would taste.

*****

I leaned forward, my free hand moved up to cup her neck, just in case, I didn’t want her to move away. Her skin was so hot under my fingers. And so soft. I felt her sigh, and moved closer and set my lips on the soft skin of her cheek. I breathed in deeply, smelling her. I had been this close in the past, but only during fights. It was nice to be this close, to feel her out of love.

I sighed, moving back and away from her. It was so nice being that close, but it hurt deeply, knowing that she didn’t love me.

“I think that you were meant to be back here.”

“I, um?” Buffy mumbled. She had closed her eyes. I smiled softly at her.

“This is your destiny. To be the best Slayer. It just wasn’t your time yet.”

“Faith?” She asked questioning. God, I think she really thought I was going to kiss her. Did I just blow my chance? Naw. I couldn’t have her like that. I need to have her heart, her wanting me back just as much as I wanted her.

*****

Buffy opened her eyes, still not sure why Faith hadn’t kissed her. She looked at the other girl, and she looked so sad, deflated. What had she said? Buffy cursed herself for not paying attention. Well mentally. Her body was paying attention. It had leapt feeling Faith's hand on her neck, feeling her hair on her face. And the soft warm lips pressed to her tear stained cheek.

“Destiny?” Buffy managed, blinking. “I hope there isn’t an end of the world coming.” She moaned, and Faith smiled.

“Hopefully not. But hey, if it does, you have me.” She raised her eyebrow.

“Do I?” Buffy asked. Faith leaned forward, her lips next to Buffy’s ear.

“Always have, always will.”

...continued in Fate...

:HOME:BACK TO FANFIC: